It’s one thing to keep an old car looking great but another thing to keep it running great. Just like people, older cars require a bit more upkeep than newer models. Performing maintenance on your car before the spring and winter seasons, will be extremely helpful to keep your car healthy. Understanding the things that can go wrong with an older car and why regular maintenance is important could be the difference between keeping that car out of the dump and on the open road.
Knowing What to Look For
The secret between owning a car that lasts 100,000 miles and one that still runs after 500,000 miles is knowing what problems to look for. All models and makes of cars have a list of problems that commonly arise as they age. However, there are a few problems that nearly all older cars have to deal with. Here are three of the most crucial components of old cars that people should keep their eyes on.
- Automatic Transmissions – The number of passenger cars that have automatic transmissions is on the rise. As manufacturers continue to improve how they build transmissions, the mileage life of these units continues to improve. However, automatic transmissions on older cars are notorious for causing owners issues. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most costly aspects of owning an older car. Having to repair a transmission is pretty rare, and it’s simply replaced a majority of the time. Old car owners should be on the lookout for such failures after their cars pass the 100,000-mile mark.
- Cooling System – Heat is one of the biggest enemies that any car will face. The cooling system is meant to keep the heat from robbing the car’s life. This system includes the radiator and all of its hoses. The coolant in the system needs to be changed at least once a year, and owners should use a 50/50 mix of distilled water and coolant. This should help prevent deposits and corrosion from forming later down the line.
- Fuel Pump – When an older car isn’t getting the gas mileage it used to or is having trouble starting or staying on, this may be a sign that the fuel pump is going bad. Cars typically start having problems with the fuel pump after 60,000 miles. Sometimes fuel pump-related problems are the result of a clogged fuel line. Once this problem is first noticed, car owners should have their cars serviced immediately. They should also not assume it’s the fuel pump right away because there’s always a chance that it’s another issue that is less expensive to fix.
Keeping Old Cars Running Longer
Knowing what to look for is only part of the battle. There are a number of things that car owners can do that will help extend the life of any car. Fixing a problem as soon as it arises is always a good idea. Ignoring the issue isn’t going to make it go away. In fact, it’s likely going to get worse. As soon as a car starts sounding or feeling unusual, it’s important to have it serviced right away.
When having the car serviced, or if the car owner decides to repair it himself, it’s always best to use high-quality replacement parts. In the automotive industry, consumers often get what they pay for. If they want to keep their cars on the road longer, they should stay away from budget brands.
Last but not least, drive gently. As mentioned earlier in the article, cars are just like humans. The older they get, the more fragile they become. When driving an older car, gently apply the brakes and gas. Also consider taking turns more gradually, and always avoid road hazards and potholes.
Understanding Preservation Maintenance
- Self-Inspections – Keeping up with an old car can be costly. No one has time to go to an auto service center every week. That’s why car owners have to periodically do their own inspections, including checking the lights, fluids, tires and battery. Looking for things out of the ordinary can save high-mileage car owners money in the long run.
- Timing and Serpentine Belts – While most people say that cars should have the serpentine and timing belts replaced every 60,000 miles, it’s best to do it every 40,000 miles on older cars. It’s important to check the owner’s manual for more information on the type of belts that the car uses. People who don’t have an owner’s manual can often find one online.
- Frequent Oil Checks – The oil is the lifeblood of the car. Keeping it fresh can really extend the life of the car. When changing the oil in the car, use high-quality oil, and check the owner’s manual for more in-depth information on the best oil for the car.
Scheduling Maintenance and When to Do It
Scheduling routine maintenance may be one of the most important aspects of owning an older car. Owners of high-mileage cars should keep a log of all the maintenance that they have done and when their next scheduled maintenance should be. Cars should have a brake inspection, power flush for the cooling system, fuel injection cleaning, and suspension and engine tune-up every 24,000 miles.
Keep in mind that not all scheduled maintenance is based on mileage. People who don’t drive their cars as often should remember that some maintenance has to be done periodically regardless of how often the car is driven. For example, the PCV valve should be serviced every 12,000 miles or every 24 months, whichever comes first. The vacuum modulator should be inspected every 36,000 miles or 36 months.
Using Tech to Keep Up With Maintenance
Keeping up with maintenance can be a real problem sometimes because there are so many things to keep track of. Although the car may be old, the technology that the car owner has access to isn’t. Using new technology, high-mileage car owners can easily keep up with the maintenance of their cars.
- Road Trip – For iOS users, there’s a helpful app called Road Trip. This is a very robust maintenance and mileage tracking app. Not only is this app fast, but it keeps track of maintenance history, expenses and fill-ups. Best of all, it provides reminders for future work that needs to be done.
- AutoCare – Android and iOS users can both make use of the AutoCare app, which does all of the same things as Road Trip. One of the best parts, however, is that it can keep up with multiple cars, making maintenance even easier for multiple car owners.
- Internet – People use the Internet to look for funny cat videos, play games and check the latest sports scores. However, it can be used to gather useful information about old cars as well. Everything from helpful advice and when cars should get maintenance to old driver manuals can be found and downloaded online.
By using the maintenance and care tips talked about above, people can greatly extend the lives of their high-mileage cars. The biggest thing to remember is that they have to be proactive when it comes to maintaining old cars. Don’t wait until problems manifest into something that could have been prevented. Caring for a car isn’t cheap, but it can become a lot more expensive quickly if they are left unattended.
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